DA calls for Polela probe

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Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has called for an investigation into alleged poaching by suspended Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela, it said on Tuesday.

“Polela's claims that he was not aware that he needed a permit and was hunting on community land are without foundation. The law is very clear... It is illegal to hunt after dark, it is illegal to hunt any protected species and anyone who hunts must have permission,” DA MP Radley Keys said in a statement.

He said that as a former Hawks spokesperson, Polela “more than anyone” should understand the requirements of the law.

Polela said on Monday that he had been hunting with friends in Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday night, when they were approached by a local farmer “brandishing his gun”, and his son.

“I was not scared of the guns, I knew it was a case of (the farmer using) cowboy tactics,” he said.

He claimed that the police arrived, spoke to him and his friends, and checked his three rifles, which were legal.

“They didn't confiscate my rifles. I am looking at them now,” he said.

Polela said he would approach the Press Ombudsman about a report in The Citizen newspaper, claiming he had been arrested by wildlife officials.

He also criticised the newspaper for claiming that he had switched off his phone after the newspaper contacted him for comment.

Polela said he would ask the Ombudsman to check his phone records to prove he had not received text messages from the newspaper requesting comment.

KwaZulu-Natal police said Polela was not arrested.

Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said a local farmer apparently saw a bakkie, which he believed poachers were using, in a Himeville game reserve at 11.30pm on Thursday. He and neighbouring farmers stopped the bakkie.

“There were four occupants, and when the farmers asked questions, there was a confrontation where one of the occupants allegedly pointed a gun at the farmers,” Mdunge said.

He said the farmers fled in “fear for their lives”, but took photographs of the men and the two buck carcasses in their bakkie.

“The farmers called the local police station, but when police arrived, the alleged poachers had already left,” Mdunge said.

A case of illegal poaching was opened at Himeville police station.

“We do not have a clear identification of the suspects, but McIntosh Polela himself has been in the public domain, alleging he has been hunting on the farm,” Mdunge said.

“He claims it was a community farm that he has been hunting on since he was a toddler, nonetheless we cannot confirm those allegations.”

Although no case was immediately opened in response to the farmers' allegations that one of the men had pointed a gun at them, a report on the matter was requested from the investigating officer. - Sapa


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